The Town That Time Forgot
Visitors who pass through the small town of Glasgow will probably be surprised to see signs proclaiming it "The Town That Time Forgot" and to see businesses share its main thoroughfare with at least a dozen full-size fiberglass dinosaurs. Is Glasgow positioning itself as an American Brigadoon? Are there rich fossil beds beneath the Grocery Express and the Royal Order of Moose lodge?
Actually, unlike in other small towns grasping for fame, the attractions in Glasgow -- the dinosaurs -- were not created to justify its claim. The claim was created to justify the dinosaurs. All of it came from the mind of one man, Mark Cline, Glasgow resident and fiberglass artiste who, frankly, just likes making dinosaurs, and who wants to help his town in the best way that he knows how.
"How much intelligence does it take put fiberglass pigs or cows around your town?" Mark asks us, a dismissive reference to the many communities that have, in recent years, done just that. "If you're gonna call attention to yourself, be original."
Mark has been accused of many things in his life, but we doubt that he has ever been accused of lacking originality, or of an inability to call attention to whatever it is that he wants to call attention to. We have followed him here from the neighboring town of Natural Bridge, stopping for whirlwind tours of other attractions that feature his handiwork: The Enchanted Castle Studios, Foamhenge, and Professor Cline's Haunted Monster Museum & Dark Maze. The bed of Mark's pickup truck holds a Raptor dinosaur destined for the roof of the Glasgow Fine Points hair salon -- if he can find a ladder long enough so that he can haul it up there.
Mark explains that he set up the dinosaurs as "an elaborate April Fool's thing" in 2003, after having success with a similar project in 2001 in the nearby town of Lexington, titled "A Space Oddity," that involved lots of fiberglass flying saucers. "I didn't go through any city council meeting or nothing," he tells us. "I just went up to this lady here or that couple over there and said, 'Look, I got an idea that might bring some more people into your store to spend money.'"
Thus a Tyrannosaurus Rex now stands beside the BP gas station, a Pterodactyl perches atop the hunting supply store, and a Triceratops guards the Mom & Pop Restaurant and Hotel.
"Business is up 300-400 percent," Mark asserts, which is why the hair salon now wants a piece of the Jurassic action. Mark also ascribes a higher purpose to his work. "I want to make people happy," he says. "If you make people happy, then you make yourself happy, 'cause that's what it's all about."
"I just love this area and these people," Mark declares. "It's a beautiful little town."
The ladder, unfortunately, proves elusive, and we have to be on our way. Frankly, we are exhausted, and we've only been with Mark for 90 minutes. But he's as full of energy as he was when we first met, and he has to speed away to pick up his daughters from school, who have apparently grown accustomed to their Dad arriving with odd loads in his truck.
"I've had offers to move out to California," Mark tells us, softly. "But, you know, you can't buy this scenery." Is he referring to the surrounding mountains, or the dinosaurs?
Update - October 2007: One or two dinosaurs remain.
June 2005: You can forget this town again. The dinosaurs have been installed at Dinosaur Kingdom in Natural Bridge.